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It’s no secret that market trends come and go. Nevertheless, each year several new trends arise with the ability to overhaul the marketing sphere altogether. Luckily, 2016 has been a promising year with an emergence in digital technology: providing small businesses with the ability to reach a vast audience and sharpen product quality to improve the consumer-experience.

Regardless of your business model – entrepreneur, freelancer, business owner, and employee – the developing market trends hold value for everyone.

With 2016 coming to a close, it’s important to maintain a solid grasp on the market trends that are sure to work in your business’s favor. In doing so you will ensure you stay ahead of the curve for new marketing trends on the rise. In the meantime, familiarize yourself and your business with the following marketing trends to stay relevant, drive success, and maintain a connection to the ever-changing marketing sphere.

Relationships First: The rumors are true – we are living in a connection economy, and, in an ever-growing digital world, it’s no wonder that consumers are seeking to create and build a relationship with those whom they choose to do business. The Business-to-Business/Buyer-to-Seller model is rapidly being replaced by a Human-to-Human/Consumer-to-Content model. This means it’s now your responsibility to create a connection with the consumer. Each person you do business with has their own set of emotions, goals, ideas, and fears – seek to relate with each person individually. Long are the days when people would buy for business. Rather, people are buying into businesses for the people on the other end of the equation. Create a genuine relationship – be authentic – and you will find yourself benefitting from the connection economy. As stated best by the late Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It is this guiding principal that will create loyalty to your brand.

Maximize Millennials: With Millennials quickly taking over the workforce it’s important to understand not only how they buy but what and why they buy as well. With eighty million millennials nationwide and nearly $200 billion in annual spending this is a demographic your business can’t afford to overlook – or take for granted. While the first wave of millennials, Gen Y’s, are entering their early-to-mid 30s, Gen Z’s are quickly becoming the youngest demographic to enter the workforce. And the most important factor to address between the two: they are vastly different all while managing to fall under the ‘millennial’ umbrella.

The bottom line: to establish a solid rapport with your millennial consumers you need to have a working understanding of how they function.

Millennials are the first to truly grow up in the digital age with data always at their fingertips. They are accustomed to doing their due diligence in research before making a big purchase, and they are notorious for choosing brands with whom they feel a sense of loyalty: big name brands no longer gaining trust without proof of merit. Furthermore, millennials are less inclined to respond positively to advertising, with 1% or less willing to invest in a brand because of their advertising campaign. Instead, millennials are buying into authenticity: actively seeking to learn about companies and brands through blog posts/subscriptions and social media accounts like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and investing in companies for people over product.

To engage with your millennial consumers find a way to satiate their appetite for knowledge in the concise and immediate fashion they seek. Millennials are used to accessing knowledge instantly through social media channels such as Instagram (with 15 second videos) and SnapChat (with 10 second videos). Capitalize on and appeal to this aspect of millennials and you’ll be on your way to establishing brand authority and subsequently developing brand loyalty.

Content Marketing: Since the rise of content marketing in 2010, businesses everywhere have been learning how to create the finest, most robust content to engage potential customers. Content marketing is changing the way you interact, process, and integrate with one another through your business channels – the content you create and promote will not only represent your brand and create brand name recognition, but will be a determining factor in customer buy-in.

This is why any content your business creates must be your absolute best: whether written or in video format. Your customers are the consumers of the content you produce. And, frankly, customers are resistant to consuming poorly-planned and/or poorly executed content. Therefore, you have to take note of content marketing trends to guarantee that your business is producing quality, competitive content.

Social media platforms are an excellent way to share the content you create, but don’t limit yourself solely to these avenues. Branch outside of your comfort zone to find other channels organically or spend the time and the money to invest in channels that will broaden the scope of your content reach.

Marketing Automation: Hubspot.Com defines marketing automation as “Software that exists with the goal of automating marketing actions. Many marketing departments have to automate repetitive tasks such as emails, social media, and other website actions.” In other words – software that markets and manages tasks on your behalf through an automation system you set up yourself.

Infusionsoft, Buzz360, and Intercom are each marketing automation platforms that promise to meet your business needs—one way or another—through automating a select system within your business.

There are a multitude of benefits to adding marketing automation software to your business, for starters:

  • Save time! Everyone knows time is money AND of the essence. Marketing automation software allows operations to be scheduled ahead of time; inevitably freeing your time for tasks that require great attention to detail.Add a personal touch. Marketing automation software allows you to tailor experiences to meet the needs of your consumer. This ability is an invaluable tool and only strengthens brand recognition and loyalty.Collect Data. The beauty of marketing automation is the ability to collect data without ever having to spend countless hour analyzing. This is crucial as solid data can provide you with insight to make pertinent changes to further drive business.

Mobile Marketing (Including but not limited to App Development): Mobile marketing, which can arguably be used in conjunction with marketing automation, is promotional activity delivered or presented directly to consumers via their mobile phones and handheld devices such as tablets.

According to recent reports, individuals may spend up to 40% of designated internet-time on their phone. Capitalizing on the increase in consumer electronic use is paramount for your business, regardless if the marketing is done through app-based marketing, promoted post ads (think of those pesky ads you get during your 15-minute bathroom break at work that you really spend playing Angry Birds or Candy Crush), or QR codes, etc. The reality is that if you aren’t taking advantage of mobile marketing opportunities your business is falling behind. And fast.

Transient Marketing: Coupled with mobile marketing is transient or ephemeral marketing—essentially marketing that is quick and to-the-point. Consumers want to know what you are offering, how you are offering it, and where they can get it in as little time possible. SnapChat’s 10-second stories and Instagrams 15-second-to-one-minute stories are perfect examples of the efficacy of this tactic. Consumers are seeking to consume as much data as quickly as possible. Your job as the business owner is to find ways to satiate a consumer’s appetite for knowledge and or products in ways that are both creative and succinct.

The Internet of Things: Lastly, one of the biggest emerging marketing trends is the Internet of Things (IoT). Chances are you haven’t heard what the IoT is. Yet. The IoT simply refers to any device which can be connected to the internet. No longer just your phone or smart TV. Think of baby monitors, ATMs, home security systems, wearables such as the FitBit and the Apple Watch, even your oven. The point is, nothing is off-limits anymore—and this means everything is connecting to the internet.

Why does this matter as a marketing trend? Because companies utilizing the IoT will gain access to their customers at the right time, rather than just when they are in-store or on the phone. The IoT provides companies with access to more data than ever before as consumers become increasingly able to order and reorder product from an increased number of avenues. And data, when calibrated correctly, equals profit.

The future is here. And it is bright.

Sources:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ianaltman/2015/12/01/top-10-business-trends-that-will-drive-success-in-2016/#5eaeeb0b5571
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/270045
https://www.fastcompany.com/3053911/hit-the-ground-running/five-business-trends-to-watch-in-2016-no-matter-how-or-where-you-work
http://www.forbes.com/sites/ajagrawal/2016/08/03/6-things-to-know-about-marketing-to-millennials/#1e37750e6310
http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2015/01/20/10-new-findings-about-the-millennial-consumer/#758a885c28a8
http://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/marketing/2015/07/3-strategies-for-capturing-millennial-engagement.html
http://www.northeastern.edu/news/2014/11/generation-z-survey/
https://econsultancy.com/blog/65212-what-is-marketing-automation-and-why-do-you-need-it/
http://www.hubspot.com/marketing-automation-information
http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2013/08/19/what-is-mobile-marketing
http://www.business2community.com/marketing/emerging-marketing-trends-2016-01514671#HRzC6umfQoWBI2gs.97
http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobmorgan/2014/05/13/simple-explanation-internet-things-that-anyone-can-understand/#4162c4468284